Talent alone is not enough, says new Al Jazira manager Eric Gerets

Al Jazira introduce Belgian as their new coach on Thursday and to start his third manager stint in the Gulf region, Eric Gerets needs to fill the team's void at the Asian player slot, writes Amith Passela.

Eric Gerets, right, was introduced as the new coach for Al Jazira on Thursday, May 22, 2014, in Abu Dhabi. DELORES JOHNSON / The National
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ABU DHABI // To regain the Arabian Gulf League title for his new club Al Jazira is the top priority for Eric Gerets in what the Belgian has revealed will be his third and last coaching assignment in the Arab Gulf.

"First of all I am happy that Jazira and I found an agreement for the next two seasons. It is my third and for sure the last experience in the Gulf," Gerets said as he was officially unveiled at the club on Thursday as the team's new coach to replace Walter Zenga.

“The last two visits in the Gulf with Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia and at Qatar’s Lekhwiya ended in a very positive way. I know, if you are a sportsman, life is about winning important titles.

“I know I am going to be a coach of a team with a lot of talent. But talent alone is not enough. Talent, discipline and motivation go together because if one of these is absent you can’t win trophies.”

The Belgian, 60, has already watched videos of some Jazira games this season and will watch more to analyse them and decide on the future of the team.

One place Jazira will have to fill is that of the Korean midfielder Shin Hyung-min, whose contract was not renewed.

“We have to fill the Asian player’s slot but this is not a problem. We will find a solution within the next two days or the next two weeks,” Gerets said.

“It is highly unprofessional on my side to speak about the players before working with them. I would like to think we have a squad with a lot of talent and motivation when we regroup for our first training session on July 5 or 6.”

The team will regroup at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium during Ramadan and are scheduled to leave for a three-week camp in Austria or Switzerland in the first week of August.

Gerets stressed the importance of working as a team and the club becoming a close-knit unit.

“For me, what’s important is that the team has a strategy to work together every day to create an extremely strong image that everybody will know,” he said.

“We are a little family. If anybody touches one member of the family, it touches everybody in the family.”

Gerets signed a two-year deal and is Jazira’s sixth coach since the Brazilian Abel Braga left at the end of a successful three-year period in which he led the club to a historic league and President’s Cup double success in 2011.

Alejandro Sabella was signed as replacement for Braga but the Argentine never coached a match, instead taking over as his country’s national team.

Franky Vercauteren took charge but the Belgian’s term ended in March 2012 after a player revolt and Jazira ended the 2011/12 season under the interim Brazilian coach Caio Junior.

The Abu Dhabi club began the 2012/13 season under Paulo Bonamigo, who crossed over from Al Shabab, but the Brazilian also departed and Luis Milla was signed in February 2013.

Zenga replaced the Spaniard in October last year but he, too, did not last the length of contract, which was for 18 months.

“We have explained the club’s objectives to Zenga and thanked him for the work he did,” said Ayedh Mabkhout, the Jazira team manager.

“We want to win championship titles and we believe Eric Gerets will add value to the team with his background and experience in the region.”

Gerets said the club’s objective, as well as the fans’, players’ and his own, was to win all the trophies.

“I have promised to give the same commitment as I have and as I did at Hilal as well as at Lekhwiya,” he said. “The results with them were not bad as we were the champions in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.”


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